The battle for the 2009 Laser World Championship begins today at Halifax, Canada with Olympic Champion Paul Goodison leading the fleet of 168 competitions from 51 nations.
St. Margaret Sailing Club in Halifax, Nova Scotia hosts the 2009 Laser World Championship, where the first two races of the qualifying series are scheduled for today.
One year on from standing at the top of the Olympic podium, Beijing gold medal winning sailor Paul Goodison
(GBR) will be gunning for a first ever World title.
The Laser Worlds is the one event that's so far eluded the 31-year-old, and having remained unbeaten on the international scene since clinching Beijing gold in emphatic style, Goodison is determined to add a World Championship win to his otherwise impressive sailing CV.
Earlier this year the Skandia Team GBR star picked up back to back wins at the ISAF Sailing World Cup
events in France, The Netherlands and Germany, and also added a fifth straight European title to his belt this month in Sweden, after which he admitted he was hungry to be crowned World Champion.
"The Worlds has been the one win I've really wanted and the whole year has been geared towards preparing for that," he explained.
This year's results will have given the Rotherham sailor confidence, but with some 170 sailors from 51 nations set to compete across the six days of racing, Goodison will have to find his form once again if he's to overcome the likes of defending 2007 and 2008 World Champion Tom Slingsby
from Australia, European silver medallist Javier Hernandez
of Spain, or the in-form Croatian Tonci Stipanovi?
, and clinch the coveted world crown. Other names to look out for are 2008 World Champion silver medallist Julio Alsogaray of Argentina, Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion
in 2007 and 2008 Pavlos Kontides
(CYP). The home challenge is set to be spearheaded by 2008 Canadian Laser representative Mike Leigh
Also flying the flag for Skandia Team GBR will be Lymington's Nick Thompson
, who's currently leading the ISAF Sailng World Cup series in the men's single-handed class. Thompson saw a strong start to the season with wins at the Miami and Palma World Cup events, so a strong showing at the Worlds this year would cement his place as one of the key players in the class for this new Olympic cycle.
Racing at the Laser World Championship will run from Thursday 20 to Wednesday 26 August. A total of 14 races are scheduled, with eight races in the qualifying series (20-23 August), where the competitors sailed in mixed fleet, followed by six races in the final series, where all the top sailors competing in the gold fleet for the World title.
Click here for our Laserr World Championships page containing all the news, photos, links to live tracking, results and more from this year's Laser Worlds.